Operative Management of Displaced Flexion Supracondylar Humerus Fractures in Children

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Flexion-type supracondylar humerus fractures remain an uncommon variant of the common extension-type injury. They are often thought to be more difficult injuries, more probable to require open reduction, and have neurovascular complications. We reviewed the 10-year history of flexion-type supracondylar elbow fractures treated at 1 institution and compared these cases with those of an extension-type cohort collected during a similar period. The patients in the flexion-type group (mean age, 7.5 years) were significantly older than those in the extension-type group (mean age, 5.8 years). The fractures in flexion-type group were also more probable to require open reduction (31%) than those in the extension-type group (10%). There was no difference in the incidence of preoperative nerve symptoms; however, the flexion-type group had a significantly increased incidence rate of ulnar nerve symptoms (19% vs 3% in the extension-type group) and need for ulnar nerve decompression. The flexion-type variant should be recognized preoperatively, and the potential pitfalls involved with the treatment of these injuries appreciated.

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